I've been lurking here for a good part of this year, learning as much as I can about the financial industry. My particular interests lie in Investment Banking and Hedge Funds. I'm currently 21 and will be starting this Fall at a community college on the West Coast. This story is a bit long, but I'm posting it to hopefully inspire others in difficult situations.
Background: My background was difficult and definitely not typical. I was always good in school and was always interested in finance and investing, and planned on a career in these areas. I had tons of energy, and was happy and motivated. Around halfway through high school I became very ill with dozens of symptoms. I became so debilitated and depressed I ended up dropping out 3 weeks into my senior year, being unable to attend school. I did however, immediately get my GED. I didn't know what was wrong with me and ended up seeing various doctors who couldn't give me an explanation. It has been years of research and determination but last year I found a good doctor and was finally diagnosed with Lyme disease, which is an infection transmitted by ticks. I was also lucky enough to have middle class parents that helped me out with some of the bills. I learned it wasn't caught early enough and had progressed to a late stage. My immune system numbers were terrible. To say I felt like I was dying everyday was an understatement. I have been treating the illness for almost a year and am about 70% better. My doctor is confident I will fully recover. The way a chronic illness wears you down mentally and physically is overwhelming and hard to put into words, like being constantly pounded by a 20 foot wave. There is no "fighting it", your only weapon is patience. Going through all of this has been a massive test of will and endurance, but I think it has deepened me as a person. I have so much gratitude for the little things, while at the same time it has made me a lot more ambitious. I know there is zero time to waste when our lives are so fragile and short.
After dropping out of high school I thought my future was ruined by my health difficulties and any chance of me being able to attend college and have a good career were dashed. My only hope was to fully recover and begin working and developing skills to be able to start businesses without college. After delving into the forums and blogs that cover the high finance industry and looking into transfer opportunities from my CC I now am on track to bust my ass off and transfer to a target West Coast university with a great undergraduate business program and graduate in 2019 at 25 years old. From my understanding this is not too old to break into IB as an analyst, though I need to figure out the best way to present the gap I have between high school and college in interviews. I have been networking with the university's mentorship program and making sure I have the best possible transcript and extracurriculars. I am also about to start networking for an AM orinternship for next summer to help me get an IB internship once I transfer. Additionally, I'm working on starting a Google AdWords side business targeting wealthy local business owners to help gain networking/sales/copywriting skills.
My rough plan is to secure a full time offer in IB as an analyst and network my way into a Hedge Fund after a few years. Beyond that, I would like to either work my way up the fund or start and sell companies with the experience and knowledge I have gained.